For many children, a step-parent is closer to them than their biological mother or father. Many stepparents fill parental roles missing from their biological parents. Stepparents and children develop strong bonds that can last even if the marriage does not.
Children can be just as devastated by losing a step-parent as a result of a divorce as that of their biological children, especially if the stepparent has been in the child’s life for a long time. A stepparent may be the only mother or father figure the child has ever experienced. Because of this strong bond, the court may order child support to be paid by the stepparent.
Typically the biological parent is responsible to pay child support to their children and stepparents are not required to do so. It is unusual for a stepparent to be ordered to pay child support, however, there are instances where this is the case. If you are facing this situation, contact a family law firm and request to speak with one of the attorneys knowledgeable about child support and stepparents.
Stepparents Who Adopt Their Stepchildren
If the stepparent adopts their stepchild, that parent assumes all the responsibilities of a biological parent. If the couple divorces, the stepparent will be considered equally when determining visitation, child support, and child custody. If the stepparent becomes the noncustodial parent, the court will typically require that parent to pay child support.
The court may still require the stepparent to pay child support even if they did not adopt the stepchildren. If the primary residence of the child was with the stepparent and the stepchildren are dependent on the stepparent for financial support, the court may order the stepparent to continue supporting the stepchildren.
While the couple is in the process of divorcing, money from both the biological parent and the stepparent are used to temporarily support the child/children. This is especially true if the child/children were living with the stepparent at the time.
Support Ends for the Stepparent
Usually, the obligation of the stepparent to support the stepchildren ends when the divorce is final and in some cases earlier if the court feels it appropriate to do so.
The Best Interest of the Child
As in every case, the court looks at what is considered to be the best interest of the child/children. One of the goals of determining the amount of child support the noncustodial is ordered to pay is to allow the child/children to maintain the quality of life they experienced when living with both parents. Divorce can be an extremely emotional experience for the child. This is true even with stepparents. The child may have developed a very strong bond with the stepparent and the court will look at the effects that living apart from one parent — biological or stepparent will have on the child when granting visitation rights or custody issues.
Contact an Attorney
A family lawyer, like from Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols, that has experience in dealing with stepparents and child support can help you develop a plan that works for the entire family. A law firm will protect your rights and help achieve results that work for you and your child/children.